Photo by Kevin Jackson on Unsplash

You can read the story from the beginning here. This episode is in response to Writing Prompt Number 26

Dave dragged Jack into the middle of Lady Freydis’ court and glared around him. “He’s your problem now,” he snarled. “Have a nice night.” He stalked out.

Lady Freydis shook her head. “I will deal with you later,” she said. “I have enough to do with planning the solstice celebrations.” She glanced over at her husband. “I’ll wait until I have time to be creative.”

Martin grinned. “I’ll help. Jack winced and wandered over to the corner. He dropped into the chair next to Umbran.

“I need to divert her attention before she gets too inspired,” Jack said. “Any ideas?”

Umbran shook his head. “I have not yet found a way of influencing Lady Freydis.”

Jack sighed. “There’s an art to it, but I’ve never managed.” He shrugged and waved his hand. “Though I can sometimes make her laugh and that gets me out of plenty of trouble.” He took a long draught from the flagon that had appeared on the small side table.

“How did you get into trouble?” Umbran asked.

Jack looked deeply into the flagon in his hand. “A gardener was interviewed for the paper about his bumper crop of apples,” he said. “He got a few bushels of the Idared variety, and they looked lovely and rosy in the photographs.”

“So what was the problem?” Umbran asked.

“First of all, it’s June and you don’t usually pick Idared apples until October,” Jack said. He threw a cautious glance over towards Lady Freydis. “And perhaps the main problem was that he was expecting to dig up new potatoes.”

“The mortals will conjure some explanation that makes sense to them,” Umbran said. “But Lady Freydis may not approve. You may be eating apple sauce instead of mashed potatoes with your beef and cabbage.”

Jack shrugged. “I get bored. Perhaps I should interfere in the White Hart.”

“I have never heard your courage doubted,” Umbran said. “But as a guest, with the old laws of hospitality, I would feel compelled to support Lady Freydis, Kadogan, Miss Marianne, Martin, Mrs Tuesday and Steve Adderson against you.” He thought for a moment. “And, of course, any of the paladins and Knights Templar that would be involved.”

Jack froze for a moment and then nodded. “That is a good point and well made,” he said. He waved his hand again and another flagon appeared. He pushed it over to Umbran. “So Lord Cerdig sent you here. Why?”

Umbran looked thoughtfully at the flagon. “You expect me to drink this on trust?”

Jack shrugged. “You could bring a decent feud to my door and I’m already in trouble, so for once it’s safe. It’s just cider.”

Umbran considered it, then took a long draught. The sense of crisp, cook apples almost overwhelmed him, their scent flooding over him and the ghost of their rounded shapes brushing over his cheeks. “Thank you,” he said sincerely. He thought for a moment. “That drink demands the truth. I am here because I am to send news to Lord Cerdig and because he said he owed me a duty. He owed me counsel that I should spread my wings. I had been pent up as I was so confused by mortals.” He took another draught. “I had hidden myself from the sky.”

“Being pent up is hard,” Jack said. “I suffered a long imprisonment.” He was silent for a moment. “So are you going to stretch your wings?”

Umbran drained the flagon, revelling in the heady scent, then slipped into his raven form and flew out of the room.

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